Saturday, 4 December 2021 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture passages we are all called to reflect on those words we received and which we have heard, that we may continue to hold on to the hope we have in the Lord, in His light and truth, and in our genuine desire to be reconciled and be reunited with Him. We are all called to focus our attention on the Lord as we continue to progress through this season of Advent, this blessed time of preparation and renewal that is meant for us to rediscover our faith in the Lord.

We heard in our first reading today the words of the Lord through His prophet Isaiah, in which He spoke of the coming of the good times in the future, the time of His providence and reckoning. God spoke to His people reassuring them on the coming of the days of rest after the long periods of challenges and trials. The Lord will bless all those who have persevered in their faith and those who have devoted their time and effort to love Him and to commit themselves to the works that the Lord has entrusted to them.

Contextually, the people of God at the time of the prophet Isaiah as I mentioned before earlier in the week, had been suffering humiliation, oppressions and challenges from the pressures exerted by the great powers of the region, their neighbouring states and others because of their disobedience, wickedness and lack of faith in God. Those sufferings were the just consequences of their wrongdoings and their fortunes then were at an all-time low. But God did not abandon them and still cared for them.

That was why He sent prophets and messengers to them, to show them the way and to lead and guide them through their journey so that they may know how to find their way to the Lord. God revealed to them that in the end, His love for them shall endure and they shall see His great love being shown at the end. The people of God shall not be disappointed if they place their faith in God, unlike if they place their faith in the worldly things which they hope to give them consolation and support. That is because His promise and grace is everlasting while the world is not.

In today’s Gospel passage we have also heard the Lord carrying out His works and missions all over the whole land, performing miracles, healing many people who came to Him, caring for the needs of those who were searching for fulfilment and longing for His truth. He spent much time and many hours among all of them, showing them how much God loved them and committed Himself to them. The Lord truly remembered His people and cared for them despite their infidelities and wickedness. He has always been patient in reaching out to them and wanting to be reconciled with them.

He mentioned how the harvests of the Lord were plentiful but there were few labourers to collect them. And what does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that in this world, there are numerous opportunities for us to bring forth the truth of God, His light and hope among many of those who still remain lost to the Lord. God has bestowed on us all Christians with the truth, and He has shown us what it means to be beloved by Him, and it is up to us to do as He has taught us to do.

Many people have yet to believe in God simply because in many of us who are Christians and consider ourselves as such have not truly believed in God ourselves, in our words, thoughts and actions, many of which have shown lack of faith and even things that are contrary to the Divine truth and love of God. This is why we often ended up causing others to turn away from God and even have misunderstandings of God’s works and truths in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to be missionaries and good examples of our Christian faith in our respective societies and communities. Through us and our actions, God reveals His truth to more and more people, and with that, He may touch the hearts and souls of many more people that they may be stirred to follow Him and entrust themselves to Him. And the same can be said to all of us as well, especially those among us who are lukewarm in our faith.

Today, all of us can also look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessor, St. John of Damascus, also known as St. John Damascene. St. John of Damascus was a renowned Church father and theologian, a monk and teacher of the faith who was well-known for his commitment to God, his piety and dedication to the Lord. St. John of Damascus was credited with a lot of works on treatises of the many aspects of the faith, on our relationship with God, the love and actions of God, as well as the nature of the Holy Trinity and others.

St. John of Damascus was remembered for his great holiness, his love for God and also concern and compassion for his fellow brethren. He was indeed a role model for many Christians through his words, works, actions and many other examples of his virtues. He was also most influential in the opposition against then raging heresy of iconoclasm which was supported by the Emperor of the Roman Empire and the highest echelons of those who were in power, even among the clergy.

Through his passionate defence of the truth of God, his commitment to God and his truth, his tireless efforts and works, among all the many other contributions he had made, we all can see how we ourselves can become model Christians ourselves, in what we do, in what we act and say, so that in all things, we may indeed be exemplary and be inspiration to others just as how St. John of Damascus is an inspiration to us and many others out there.

Let us all seek the Lord, our loving God with renewed faith and zeal. Let us all grow ever more in faith and devotion, following the great examples set before us by St. John of Damascus and the many other holy men and women of God. May the Lord be with us all in our journey and may we all put our trust more in Him, Who alone is our hope and light. Amen.

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